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Pattis Award Winners

The Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award at the Newberry Library is presented annually to a book that transforms public understanding of Chicago, its history, or its people. 

The prize, established in 2021 by The Pattis Family Foundation in partnership with the Newberry Library, brings attention to publications that advance greater insight into the city among a general readership while resonating with the Newberry’s collections related to the history and people of Chicago.

2023 Awardee

Toya Wolfe, Last Summer on State Street (William Morrow)

2023 Shortlist Award Recipient

Heather Hendershot, When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America (University of Chicago Press)

2022 Awardee

Dawn Turner, Three Girls from Bronzeville (Simon & Schuster)

2022 Shortlist Award Recipients

Elly Fishman, Refugee High: Coming of Age in America (The New Press)

Tim Samuelson, Louis Sullivan’s Idea (Alphawood Foundation; distributed by University of Minnesota Press). Edited and designed by Chris Ware

William Sites, Sun Ra’s Chicago: Afrofuturism and the City (University of Chicago Press)

Carl Smith, Chicago’s Great Fire: The Destruction and Resurrection of an Iconic American City (Atlantic Monthly Press)

Access the nomination form for the 2024 award here. 

 

 

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance

Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance

$26.00
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Choosing Family: A Memoir of Queer Motherhood and Black Resistance is a brilliant literary memoir of chosen family and chosen heritage, told against the backdrop of Chicago's North and South Sides.

As a multiracial household in Chicago's North Side community of Rogers Park, race is at the core of Francesca T. Royster and her family's world, influencing everyday acts of parenting and the conception of what family truly means. Like Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts, this lyrical and affecting memoir focuses on a unit of three: the author; her wife, Annie, who's white; and Cecilia, the Black daughter they adopt as a couple in their 40s and 50s. Choosing Family chronicles this journey to motherhood while examining the messiness and complexity of adoption and parenthood from a Black, queer, and feminist perspective. Royster also explores her memories of the matriarchs of her childhood and the homes these women created in Chicago's South Side--itself a dynamic character in the memoir--where "family" was fluid, inclusive, and not necessarily defined by marriage or other socially recognized contracts.

Calling upon the work of some of her favorite queer thinkers, including José Esteban Muñoz and Audre Lorde, Royster interweaves her experiences and memories with queer and gender theory to argue that many Black families, certainly her own, have historically had a "queer" attitude toward family: configurations that sit outside the white normative experience and are the richer for their flexibility and generosity of spirit. A powerful, genre-bending memoir of family, identity, and acceptance, Choosing Family, ultimately, is about joy--about claiming the joy that society did not intend to assign to you, or to those like you.

Last Summer on State Street

Last Summer on State Street

$27.99
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PEN Open Book Award finalistChicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award winnerStephen Curry Underrated Literati Book Club Pick

Named a Best Book of Summer by Good Housekeeping, Chicago Magazine, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, Veranda, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, and more!

"[A] powerful novel.... Tragic, hopeful, brimming with love, Wolfe's debut is a remarkable achievement."--New York Times Book Review

For fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Brit Bennett, a striking coming-of-age debut about friendship, community, and resilience, set in the housing projects of Chicago during one life-changing summer.

Even when we lose it all, we find the strength to rebuild.

Felicia "Fe Fe" Stevens is living with her vigilantly loving mother and older teenaged brother, whom she adores, in building 4950 of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. It's the summer of 1999, and her high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority. She, with the devout Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan, daughter of a Gangster Disciple Queen-Pin, form a tentative trio and, for a brief moment, carve out for themselves a simple life of Double Dutch and innocence. But when Fe Fe welcomes a mysterious new friend, Tonya, into their fold, the dynamics shift, upending the lives of all four girls.

As their beloved neighborhood falls down around them, so too do their friendships and the structures of the four girls' families. Fe Fe must make the painful decision of whom she can trust and whom she must let go. Decades later, as she remembers that fateful summer--just before her home was demolished, her life uprooted, and community forever changed--Fe Fe tries to make sense of the grief and fraught bonds that still haunt her and attempts to reclaim the love that never left.

Profound, reverent, and uplifting, Last Summer on State Street explores the risk of connection against the backdrop of racist institutions, the restorative power of knowing and claiming one's own past, and those defining relationships which form the heartbeat of our lives. Interweaving moments of reckoning and sustaining grace, debut author Toya Wolfe has crafted an era-defining story of finding a home--both in one's history and in one's self.

"Toya Wolfe is a storyteller of the highest order. Last Summer on State Street is a stunning debut."--Rebecca Makkai, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Believers

Marrying the Ketchups

Marrying the Ketchups

$17.00
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An irresistible comedy of manners about three generations of a Chicago restaurant family and the deep-fried, beer-battered, cream cheese-frosted love that feeds them all--from the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses

"Riveting...the feel of extremely good gossip told across a hightop table over a beer with an old friend." --The New York Times Book Review

Here are the three things the Sullivan family knows to be true: the Chicago Cubs will always be the underdogs; historical progress is inevitable; and their grandfather, Bud, founder of JP Sullivan's, will always make the best burgers in Oak Park. But when, over the course of three strange months, the Cubs win the World Series, Trump is elected president, and Bud drops dead, suddenly everyone in the family finds themselves doubting all they hold dear.

Take Gretchen for example, lead singer for a '90s cover band who has been flirting with fame for a decade but is beginning to wonder if she's too old to be chasing a childish dream. Or Jane, Gretchen's older sister, who is starting to suspect that her fitness-obsessed husband who hides the screen of his phone isn't always "working late." And then there's Teddy, their steadfast, unfailingly good cousin, nursing heartbreak and confusion because the guy who dumped him keeps showing up for lunch at JP Sullivan's where Teddy is the manager. How can any of them be expected to make the right decisions when the world feels sideways--and the bartender at JP Sullivan's makes such strong cocktails?

Outrageously funny and wickedly astute, Marrying the Ketchups is a delicious confection by one of our most beloved authors.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood

$17.99
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A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book
A Best Book of 2021 by BuzzFeed and Real Simple

An "unmissable" (Vogue), "exceptional" (The Washington Post), and "evocative" (Chicago Tribune) memoir about three Black girls from the storied Bronzeville section of Chicago that offers a penetrating exploration of race, opportunity, friendship, sisterhood, and the powerful forces at work that allow some to flourish...and others to falter.

They were three Black girls. Dawn, tall and studious; her sister, Kim, younger by three years and headstrong as they come; and her best friend, Debra, already prom-queen pretty by third grade. They bonded--fervently and intensely in that unique way of little girls--as they roamed the concrete landscape of Bronzeville, a historic neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, the destination of hundreds of thousands of Black folks who fled the ravages of the Jim Crow South.

These third-generation daughters of the Great Migration come of age in the 1970s, in the warm glow of the recent civil rights movement. It has offered them a promise, albeit nascent and fragile, that they will have more opportunities, rights, and freedoms than any generation of Black Americans in history. Their working-class, striving parents are eager for them to realize this hard-fought potential. But the girls have much more immediate concerns: hiding under the dining room table and eavesdropping on grown folks' business; collecting secret treasures; and daydreaming about their futures--Dawn and Debra, doctors, Kim a teacher. For a brief, wondrous moment the girls are all giggles and dreams and promises of "friends forever." And then fate intervenes, first slowly and then dramatically, sending them careening in wildly different directions. There's heartbreak, loss, displacement, and even murder. Dawn struggles to make sense of the shocking turns that consume her sister and her best friend, all the while asking herself a simple but profound question: Why?

In the vein of The Other Wes Moore and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Three Girls from Bronzeville is a "deeply personal" (Real Simple) memoir that chronicles Dawn's attempt to find answers. It's at once a celebration of sisterhood and friendship, a testimony to the unique struggles of Black women, and a tour-de-force about the complex interplay of race, class, and opportunity, and how those forces shape our lives and our capacity for resilience and redemption.

When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America

When the News Broke: Chicago 1968 and the Polarizing of America

$30.00
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A riveting, blow-by-blow account of how the network broadcasts of the 1968 Democratic convention shattered faith in American media.

"The whole world is watching!" cried protestors at the 1968 Democratic convention as Chicago police beat them in the streets. When some of that violence was then aired on network television, another kind of hell broke loose. Some viewers were stunned and outraged; others thought the protestors deserved what they got. No one--least of all Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley--was happy with how the networks handled it.

In When the News Broke, Heather Hendershot revisits TV coverage of those four chaotic days in 1968--not only the violence in the streets but also the tumultuous convention itself, where Black citizens and others forcefully challenged southern delegations that had excluded them, anti-Vietnam delegates sought to change the party's policy on the war, and journalists and delegates alike were bullied by both Daley's security forces and party leaders. Ultimately, Hendershot reveals the convention as a pivotal moment in American political history, when a distorted notion of "liberal media bias" became mainstreamed and nationalized.

At the same time, she celebrates the values of the network news professionals who strived for fairness and accuracy. Despite their efforts, however, Chicago proved to be a turning point in the public's trust in national news sources. Since those critical days, the political Right in the United States has amplified distrust of TV news, to the point where even the truest and most clearly documented stories can be deemed "fake." As Hendershot demonstrates, it doesn't matter whether the "whole world is watching" if people don't believe what they see.